Stephen was the Foundation Dean of Law and Social Sciences at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London, and recently served as Dean for a second time. He has been a member of the University of London Senate and remains at SOAS as Professor of International Relations. Stephen’s early training began at the University of Auckland, where he studied political philosophy under Paul Feyerabend.

Stephen’s adult scholarly life began at the University of Zambia, after he resigned his position with the Commonwealth Secretariat. He wrote and convened the first MA in International Relations in the freed Southern African region – at that time still being destabilised by Apartheid South Africa. Senior military and Ministerial figures were among his students and his lectures were later published as Issues in International Relations: A View from Africa (Macmillan, 1987), and a long stream of academic books followed.

After a spell in Oxford, Stephen accepted tenure at the University of Kent and became Director of its London Centre of International Relations; from there, he went onto Nottingham Trent University as its first externally-recruited Dean of Humanities; before returning to London to serve at SOAS. His reputation for creative trouble-shooting resulted in his OBE being awarded both for ‘Services to Africa’ and ‘higher education’. Stephen has taught at graduate level for many years. He has supervised 30 PhD students to successful completion and been in demand internationally as the examiner of some 50 PhD students in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australasia.

Stephen’s reputation is established on two sets of ground-breaking books. The first has sought to illuminate the reality of contemporary political history in Southern Africa. His Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence (University of Michigan Press, 2003) is regarded as the authoritative text on Mugabe’s long rule; and his Southern Africa: Old Treacheries and New Deceits (Yale University Press, 2011) was the most acquired book on Africa in US libraries in the early part of 2012. The second set of books has been a root-and-branch meditation on Western thought and its narrowing of international space. Stephen has sought to widen that space with an extensive contemplation of non-Western philosophical systems. His edited collection, The Zen of International Relations (Macmillan, 2001), was based on a legendary series of seven workshops he conducted with Osmo Apunen in Paris in 1995. His The End of Certainty (Zed Books, 2009) helped to win him the 2010 International Studies Association award, Eminent Scholar in Global Development, which Stephen received in New Orleans.

Stephen’s writing has always sought to address two sets of audience: the specialist academic audience, and that of the general public. He does not admire the term, ‘public intellectual’, but he disdains the notion that scholarship is served by confinement in small circles. Even so, Stephen has always been prepared to serve his professional discipline. He has been an adviser to the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission, and sat on the award juries of both the German Research Council and the Finnish Academy. He has advised on research excellence in both Australia and South Africa. He was Chairman of the Editorial Board of International Relations, and was a key member of the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies Executive Committee – which both published the journal and, in accordance with the wishes of David Davies, pioneered the discipline of International Relations. Davies, who established the first Chair in the discipline in the wake of World War One, saw International Relations not only speaking truth to power but speaking in place of war. Stephen believes in that original vision.